Using delinquent tax lists to locate motivated sellers is one of the easiest ways I know to find good deals for your real estate business.
Each year, just before the tax certificate sale in your county, the county will produce a list of all the people in your county who have not paid their tax bills before the cut-off date. Usually this list will also include the address the tax bill was mailed to and a description of the property including the subdivision if there is one.
There are two easy ways to get this particular list. One is to simply look in the newspaper. Usually a few weeks before the sale, the newspaper will print a section listing all of the properties that have had tax certificates issued against them. The other way is to go to your courthouse and ask for this list and they will usually gladly give it to you.
The way I utilize this list is to carefully go through the list and choose properties in subdivisions I want to buy in and mail each of these property owners a letter. The important thing you need to remember is to keep this letter neutral and personal, don’t mention that you are aware that their taxes are behind. You don’t want to do anything to alienate a potential seller. I mail them a letter letting them know who I am, how I can help them, and that I am interested in purchasing properties in the particular subdivision they own property in. The response rate from this particular mailing always seems to be very high and brings me a number of leads from motivated sellers. You probably don’t want to mail more than 500 letters at a time, or you may not be able to handle the responses from these motivated sellers.
Many of the people who have not paid taxes on their property have not done so for a variety of reasons, such as an inability to afford them, an inherited property, a divorce situation, a probate situation, or a vacation property they no longer intend to visit. All of these are situations that are ripe for good deals to be made and many of these sellers are very motivated. Very often, they know they have a problem they need to solve, they just don’t know how until they are contacted by you.
Generally speaking, there is no competition for these properties since your competitors simply haven’t thought about using this list as a lead source. In the last mailing I did to this list, I sent out 178 pieces of mail and I have received almost a ten percent response rate from that mailing. I currently have two of these properties under contract. This may be an exceptional response, but I would certainly try this mailing and see what kind of response you get.
Any time you are able to reach a group of potential sellers who have a problem they need to solve, you will get good leads from them. Always be willing to do what your competition will not and you have more deals coming at you than you can handle.